Being Organized is Killing Your Productivity

I know this is going to be hard to hear so please bear with me.

I spent years of my life longing to see my office, my email, my car and my house all neatly organized into color-coordinated files. Surely this blissful state would allow me to reach my goals and give me peace of mind.

Honestly, it’s just not true. Getting organized is not the key to reaching your goals, in fact, it might be killing your productivity. The quest to reach this blissful state of Pinterest-like living is actually holding you back. Releasing this belief from my tightly clenched fist did not come easy.

There is a scientific reason for this, not just this working woman’s opinion.

It’s called entropy: the second law of thermodynamics, everything is in a state of breakdown.  Who knew it was science holding back your productivity? I’m not one to geek out on the latest science journals but once this was introduced to me I couldn’t “un-see it”. Entropy applies to your body, your car, your house, the laundry, your email, and the list could go on. Everything is breaking down around you.

Have you ever said, “When I get caught up I will ____________.”?  Fill in the blank with the most important thing you should be working on. Because of entropy, getting caught up is a scientific impossibility. Now you’ve put your most important work at the mercy of an impossible task. You’re never really getting caught up!

Let go of that blissful lie that there will come a day when your inbox is empty, your laundry is caught up, there’s no repair needed to the house or car and your calendar is booked appropriately with high-quality work. Waiting for all of this to be organized is a pretty little lie we tell ourselves.

Organizing is like putting a zigsaw puzzle together.  It lays on the table for days or maybe weeks with missing pieces waiting for someone to work on it. Sometimes pieces get lost.  It’s messy and not very pretty in the process.  Because it takes so long, often the puzzle gets abandoned before the beautiful finished product.

Do you have a project like this that comes to mind?  You saw that beautiful inspiration picture on Instagram and started to remodel the bathroom. The project was far bigger than you planned. There were missing pieces for days or weeks and by the time you finished, your excitement had declined into sheer frustration.

Instead of getting organized and wrestling with a 500 piece puzzle – focus is the key to productivity and reaching your goals. I love the dictionary definition of focus which is to “adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.”

Focus requires shining a light on the few most important goals and relationships and the tasks associated with those.  It’s impossible to focus on everything so this approach forces you to choose those things that are going to give you the highest return on both your time and your energy.

Focus requires us to decide what really is most important.  Is it possible spending time on market research for your dream product is more important than an empty inbox?  Is it probable the laundry will still be there when you finish writing that piece for your marketing plan?

Decide your key goals and projects, then focus.  Get clarity and shine the light on and your attention on those things. Getting caught up and then organized is the enemy of achieving your most important goals.  Do less better.

Focus is the key to moving forward.


  1. I completely agree! Sometimes the only organization you need is whatever method suits you best to define that focus and keep it on the forefront of your brain all week i.e setting your intentions for the week and breaking down your goals.

    Thanks for the reminder, Rebecca!

    • You bet! I love you referenced ‘sitting down and setting YOUR intentions for the week and breaking down goals”. The best practice ever! It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and distracted by everything coming at us. This is a great “focus” practice!

  2. Thank you for giving me permission to let go of the stress that “not being caught up” is causing me. Somehow I get the most important things done and done well, but I still feel this dark cloud that hangs behind (like Pigpen from Peanuts) that reminds me of all that I didn’t do (like reorganize my files, clear off my dining room table, etc.). Maybe that’s ok. And when that becomes one of the important things I need to do – I will do it and do it well.

    Thank you for your insights, wisdom and imperfection! I wish we lived closer so we could hang out again!

    • Let It Go! I have two other options I use. Wait for a rainy day and make it “pitch and put away” day. I also keep one of my kitchen cabinets clear with a big basket to stash anything I don”t want to look at! No dark clouds, you’re too amazing for that! Would love to hang out anytime!!!

  3. This was something I so needed to read. Sometimes I get lost on things which apparently I am doing write, I am mean how being organized is a problem?

    But it does distract me from my goals 😉

  4. I may or may not have a pile of laundry (clean) on the floor as we speak!! It’ll still be there when I’m doing the stuff that needs to get done, and it may even be a little bit smaller as everyone is just taking their clothes from the floor pile!!

  5. Great point! And to add to it, I recommend the book “The One Thing,” by Gary Keller. It’s all about focus and gives some suggestions and how and what to focus on for your goals.

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